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University of Ottawa law school has elder in residence

New program part of schools focus on Indigenous Law

The University of Ottawa law school now has a Indigenous Elder in Residence.

Metro File

The University of Ottawa law school now has a Indigenous Elder in Residence.

Working to de-colonize its curriculum the University of Ottawa has appointed an elder in residents as it continues to expand its focus on Indigenous law.

The faculty announced Monday that Elder Claudette Commanda, an Algonquin Anishinabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation would serve as the first person in the position.

Interim Dean François Larocque said having Commanda, an alumni of the school and former faculty member is ideal.

“We thought it was just a perfect fit for us to be able to formalize a relationship with her and seek her council as often as we can.”

Larocque said the goal of the schools new focus on Indigenous law is to recognize that there was a tradition before French and British people arrived.

“The communities that were here had their own laws and their own legal traditions and their own way to settle disputes,” he said. “Those legal traditions are still there. They’re still living, but they have just been eclipsed.”

Breanne Martin, president of the Indigenous Law Students' Association, said they’re thrilled with the appointment. She said Indigenous students expressed concerns to the faculty about needing “culturally-appropriate support and guidance” and she is thrilled with the choice.

“Now students can seek guidance from someone who has been there before, which I think will be extremely helpful to both new and returning students.”

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